Philip H. Lathrop - Writer

Cinematographer. Nationality: American. Born: 22 October 1916. Family: Married Betty Jo Lathrop. Career: Camera operator and cinematographer, from 1948. Awards: American Society of Cinematographers Award, Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Movies of the Week/Pilots for Little Girl Lost , 1989, Lifetime Achievement Award, American Society of Cinematographers, 1992. Died: 12 April 1995.

Films as Cinematographer:


Wild Heritage (Haas); Perfect Furlough ( Strictly for Pleasure ) (Edwards); The Monster of Piedras Blancas (Berwick); Money, Women and Guns (Bartlett); Live Fast, Die Young (Henreid); Girls on the Loose (Henreid); The Saga of Hemp Brown (Carlson)


Cry Tough (Stanley)


The Private Lives of Adam and Eve (Rooney and Zugsmith)


Experiment in Terror ( The Grip of Fear ) (Edwards); Days of Wine and Roses (Edwards); Lonely Are the Brave ( Last Hero ) (credited as Philip Lathrop) (Miller)


The Pink Panther (credited as Philip Lathrop) (Edwards); Twilight of Honor ( The Charge Is Murder ) (credited as Philip Lathrop) (Sagal); Dime with a Halo (Sagal); Soldier in the Rain (Nelson)


36 Hours (Seaton); The Americanization of Emily ( Emily ) (Hiller)


Girl Happy (Sagal); Never Too Late (Yorkin); The Cincinnati Kid (Jewison)


What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? (Edwards)


Gunn (Edwards); The Happening (Silverstein); Point Blank (Boorman); Don't Make Waves (Mackendrick)


I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! ( Kiss My Butterfly ) (Averback); Finian's Rainbow (Coppola)


The Gypsy Moths (credited as Philip Lathrop) (Frankenheimer); The Illustrated Man (Smight); They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (Pollack)


The Traveling Executioner (credited as Philip Lathrop) (Smight); Rabbit, Run (Smight); The Hawaiians ( Master of the Islands ) (Gries)


Wild Rovers (credited as Philip Lathrop) (Edwards)


Portnoy's Complaint (credited as Philip Lathrop) (Lehman); Every Little Crook and Nanny (Howard)


The Thief Who Came to Dinner (Yorkin); Lolly-Madonna XXX ( The Lolly Madonna War ) (Sarafian)


Together Brothers (Graham); The Prisoner of Second Avenue (Frank); Mame (Saks); Airport 1975 (credited as Philip Lathrop) (Smight); Earthquake (Robson)


Hard Times ( The Streetfighter ) (Hill); The Black Bird (Giles); The Killer Elite (Peckinpah) (credited as Philip Lathrop)


Swashbuckler ( Scarlet Buccaneer ) (Goldstone)


Captains Courageous (credited as Philip Lathrop) (Hart—for TV); Never Con a Killer ( The Feather & Father Gang ) (Kulik—for TV); Airport '77 (credited as Philip Lathrop) (Jameson)


The Driver (Hill); A Different Story (Aaron)


Moment by Moment (Wagner); Foolin' Around (Heffron); The Concorde: Airport '79 ( Airport '79 ; Airport '80: The Concorde ; The Concorde Affair ; The Concorde ; S.O.S. Concorde ) (Rich)


Little Miss Marker (Bernstein); A Change of Seasons (Lang); Loving Couples (Smight)


All Night Long (Tramont)


Jekyll & Hyde. . . Together Again (Belson); Hammett (Wenders); Class Reunion ( National Lampoon's Class Reunion ) (Miller)


Between the Darkness and the Dawn (Levin—for TV); Love on the Run (Trikonis—for TV); Malice in Wonderland (Trikonis—for TV); Picking Up the Pieces (Wendkos—for TV)


Deadly Friend (Craven)


Ray's Male Heterosexual Dance Hall (Gordon)


Little Girl Lost (Miller—for TV)

Other Films:


All My Sons (Reis) (camera operator)


Touch of Evil (Welles) (camera operator)


In Harm's Way (Preminger) (director of photography: second unit)


Visions of Light ( Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography ) (Glassman, McCarthy, Samuels) (committee member: ASC education, ro as Philip Lathrop)


On LATHROP: articles—

Obituary in American Cinematographer (Hollywood), June 1995.

French, Philip, "The Week in Reviews: Rerelease of the Week: Point Blank : Perfect Crime," in The Observer (London), 21 June 1998.

On LATHROP: film—

Visions of Light , directed by Glassman, McCarthy, and Samuels, 1992.

* * *

Philip H. Lathrop began his career as camera operator on the Irving Reis film All My Sons , working with cinematographer Russell Metty as he did ten years later on Orson Welles's A Touch of Evil. The two pictures, in particular the film which marked Welles's return to Hollywood in 1958, proved a valuable training ground for Lathrop, whose own career as a director of photography took off in the same year. In his long career, Lathrop developed a reputation for his detailed approach to lighting and camera placement, and for his skill with widescreen technology in beautifully photographed films such as Blake Edwards's The Pink Panther. Lathrop worked several times with Edwards, and the reliable, though not always very inspiring films on which they collaborated are notable for the quality of their photography.

With the exception of films such as The Driver , and Hammett , a stylized detective story loosely based on the life of writer Dashiell Hammett, Lathrop's most impressive work as a cinematographer came in the 1960s. His particular visual style seemed to epitomize the times, giving a glossy, dense feel to tough films like John Boorman's excellent thriller, Point Blank , and a dreamy atmosphere to strange comic offerings like The Americanization of Emily , for which he received an Oscar nomination. The Cincinnati Kid , which stars Edward G. Robinson and Steve McQueen as opposing poker players "The Man," and "The Kid," displays Lathrop's skills at their best, creating a shiny, disconcerting surface to the images that is not unlike the "Photorealist" paintings that became popular at the same time. Ten years later, Lathrop's style gave an air of quality to films at the end of their era, such as Sam Pekinpah's The Killer Elite. Lathrop went on to be involved in several well-regarded projects, such as the 1969 adaptation of Horace McCoy's bleak existentialist novel, They Shoot Horses, Don't They? , yet in the 1970s most of his work was on films that have since come to embody Hollywood's shortcomings in that period. Commercial movies such as the Airport series of films, and disaster movies such as Earthquake (for which Lathrop received his second Oscar nomination) almost became parodies of themselves with their ever more improbable story lines and predictable dramatic twists. In Class Reunion , Lathrop's photography helps sustain the viewer's interest in an otherwise thin parody of high school horror movies.

Lathrop's talent was largely stifled by the demands of the studios in the 1970s, and opportunities for outstanding photography became increasingly limited. Yet despite the overall weakness of the commercial projects he was involved with later in his career, Lathrop's work remained of a high standard, often rescuing films with little else to recommend them. When German director Wim Wenders partially succeeded in resisting the influence of Francis Ford Coppola's Zoetrope studio during the making of Hammett , Lathrop was allowed to shine: as a cinematographer he remained capable of producing extraordinary images. Although he ended his career with a series of limp TV movies, Lathrop will be remembered for his contribution to the "look" of Hollywood cinema in the 1960s.

—Chris Routledge

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